Power of the Cross

1 Corinthians 1:14-17 

14I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else. 17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Lucky Charm

Ever since you believed in Christ, have you ever experienced his power? How should we explain to ordinary person who likes to wear cross pendant that by the power of the cross of Christ, God saved us from eternal torture?

Does wearing cross pendant attract magical charm for good fortune?

Do you think gold cross, silver cross or wooden cross has magical power? Can a cross pendant keep you safe against evil elements of the darkness?

Do you know anyone who doesn’t want to see the cross next to them? Do people who reject Christ feel uncomfortable when there’s a cross next to them?

Jesus Christ was nailed and died on a cross. Do you assume that the cross where Jesus died has magical power? If the cross where Jesus died had magical power, Christ should have told his disciples to keep it for safety. Don’t you agree?

The cross should remind us of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. Whoever believes that Christ was crucified and died for their sin will live with him forever.

Mindfully, let us reflect on John 3:16-18, 16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

            To believe Christ or not yet, there’s consequence. Who may justify and ask this question: “How can a loving God send me to eternal destruction when I try my best to be good?” Well, everyone is destined to eternal destruction. Why? All have sinned against God. How could sin against God lead to eternal destruction?

            God is the creator of heaven and earth. God designed that we can enter heaven only through Christ. If Christ is the only way to heaven, all other ways lead to eternal destruction.  No one can change or modify that reality. Human sinful instinct disregards Christ and follows all other paths that lead to destruction.

Christ declared in Matthew 7:13-14, 13Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

            Naturally, sinful inclination follows the wide and broad path to destruction.

We must follow Christ Jesus, the narrow road that leads to eternal life; Christ is the way, the truth and life. And, thank be to God for his grace and his gift of faith.

1.  Thank

14I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 

            Apostle Paul said that he baptized Crispus and Gaius. Who were they? The names of Crispus and Gaius were not strangers to the Corinthians. Crispus was a synagogue leader in Corinth. Together, let us reflect on what had been narrated in Acts 18:8. 8Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.

            Most often, timid believers follow their leader. Influential people are instrumental for hesitant people to attend church. Crispus was influential. Paul baptized him. Corinthians, who followed Crispus, believed and were baptized.

            How about Gaius? Gaius travelled with Paul’s mission team. When they came to Ephesus, the crowd was aggressive. Friends, disciples and city officials appealed to Paul not to appear before the crowd. Acts 19:29 states, 29The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia.

            Originally, Gaius was from Derbe in Asia Minor (Present day Turkey). It is speculated that Gaius had financially supported the mission ministry of Paul.

When Apostle Paul sent his greetings to the believers in the city of Rome, he specifically introduced Gaius to them in Romans 16:23, 23 Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings.

            Interestingly, when Apostle John warned Gaius, he called him his friend in 3 John 1:1, 1The elder: To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

            Scholars suggest few years after Apostle Paul had died in A.D. 65 in Rome, Apostle John wrote to warn Gaius sometime in A.D. 70 or later maybe.

            Nobody mentioned how Apostle John became dear friend of Gaius. Or, was his friend Gaius the same as the Gaius who travelled with the mission team of Paul? It is a possibility, and Gaius has grown mature and served as church elder.

            Apostle Paul mentioned Crispus and Gaius to inspire believers to serve God.

May God raise dedicated believers like Crispus and Gaius to serve him!

Think about the person who led you to believe in Christ. Think about the person who inspired you to serve God! Regularly thank God for that person.

2.  Think

16Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else. 17For Christ did not send me to baptize

            Few years after Apostle Paul left the city of Corinth to visit the churches in Asia Minor, he wrote his first letter to the Corinthians. When Paul said, “I don’t remember,” he declared that he just can’t think of anyone else that he baptized.

         Interestingly, Apostle Paul was not focused on baptism. Local churches keep records of baptism for statistical purposes. Baptism is public testimony of faith in Christ. Believers cannot help but to identify themselves with the person who baptized them. The Corinthian Christians were divided because they follow different leaders who may have baptized them. Maybe, Apollos and Apostle Peter baptized believers who joined the church in Corinth that Apostle Paul had started.

It is also possible that some believers in the household of Stephanas were very loyal to Apostle Paul because he baptized them. And who was Stephanas?

            In the last chapter of his letter, Apostle Paul made it clear that he really had good memory of Stephanas. Actually, Paul instructed in 1 Corinthians 16:15-18: 15You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, 16to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. 17I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.

            Stephanas was one of the first converts when Paul started the church in Corinth, and Stephanas served as one of the pioneer leaders in the Corinthian church. Apostle Paul left Corinth about three years later. Approximately 2 years later, when he heard from some of the household of Chloe about problems in Corinth, Paul wrote his first letter to them. He also instructed the Corinthians to submit to leaders like Stephanas because of their devotion to serve believers.

Indirectly, Paul rebuked the church in Corinth when he mentioned that Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus supplied what was lacking from the church. 

            This is biblical – personal support for missionaries deserves recognition.

Limited Finances

            Few decades ago, a missionary needed support for her mission endeavor. She handed prayer letters to church members. A very young family of believers received a copy of the prayer letter. Since they had limited finances, they cut some of their expenditures and gave it to the ministry of the missionary.

            Many years passed by, the young family of believers is very grateful to the material abundance that they enjoy as family. Do you believe that the Lord had blessed them because they supported the ministry of the missionary somehow?

            Together, let’s reflect on what Apostle Paul declared in Philippians 4:18-19. 18I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

            What is the context of this promise? It was mission support. The Philippians sent financial support to the mission ministry of Apostle Paul. The Holy Spirit inspired him to declare that God meets all their needs. And why did they support the mission ministries of Paul? It is because the heart of God is mission. Can you believe it?

            God calls believers for mission purposes. What mission purpose God gave us? To tell the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to potential believers!

3.  Tell

17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

            Personally, do you sense in your heart a calling to tell about Christ’s gospel?

            Apostle Paul specifically said that he was called to preach the gospel and not to baptize. Do you know any biblical requirement on who should perform the baptism? It is traditionally practised that pastors are officiant in water baptism.

            When believers decide to follow Christ in water baptism, we encourage their parents to assist the pastor and immerse the believer into the water. If parents are not available, the Board of Trustees will assist the pastor.

Can you now see the logic why parents assist the pastor during baptism?

            Baptized believers should follow Christ and not the one who baptized them.

Anyway, Apostle Paul acknowledged that Christ sent him to preach the gospel.

This is interesting! Why did Apostle Paul specifically add the phrase: “Not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power?”

He could have just said that he was called to preach the gospel of Christ. That’s should be enough, right? Did Apostle Paul rebuke indirectly those who said that they followed Apollos, and why? Apollos was very gifted speaker and orator.

            Truly. We appreciate it when the voice of preachers is cool and nice or when preachers eloquently explain their message. Many would like that. Right?

            By the way, how can wisdom and eloquence empty the power of the cross of Christ? Certainly, preachers need wisdom to interpret the Scripture. Eloquence is useful to deliver a message with impact. And because they cannot explain it eloquently, believers hesitate to tell the gospel of Christ to potential believers.

Did you believe in Christ because you heard the gospel explained eloquently?

What did Paul imply about, “lest the cross of Christ be emptied its power?”

            Symbolically, the power of the cross pertains to the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross. Together, let’s meditate on Hebrews 9:27-28, 27Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

            It’s by his grace that God saved us from eternal destruction; we enter heaven through faith in Christ Jesus. Do you believe that Christ died for your sins?

It is when we trust Christ as Lord and Savior that we internalize the meaning of the power of the cross. Practical transformation of life testifies to faith in Christ.

What transformation happened to you after you put your faith in Christ?

Do you know anyone who thinks they are Christian? They were baptized and involved in church ministry but their lifestyle and behavior contradict the teaching of Christ. Many assumed that God loves them anyway despite their inconsistencies in life.

            Personally, let us seriously reflect on what it declares in James 2:18-1918Someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

            Make sure of your faith in Christ and the mysterious power of the cross. Christ carried our sins at his crucifixion. The mysterious power of the cross of Christ transforms us into godliness. Has your behavior mysteriously changed?

            If Christ comes today, all believers will be transported into eternity. Our mortal body will be changed into immortality. How do you anticipate that event?

            Make sure, you have faith in Christ as you personal Lord and Savior.

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